10 Tips to keep your financial house in order this Christmas
Christmas Pageants, Parades and Parties; the festive season is well and truly upon us. Whilst being a favourite time of year for many of us, it’s also that time of year where it’s easy to get carried away with spending. So, in the run up to Christmas, we’re sharing some financial wisdom to help you save money and time and get you through the ‘spending season.’
1. Make a List
Early preparation is always a great idea and keeping a list of what you’ll need this Christmas will help you plan your spending better and keep your finances in check. Make a list of everyone you need to buy a present for and what you’d like to get them. Just as important as planning for the gift buying is making a list of the food and drinks, you’ll need to buy for the festivities.
2. Make an agreement with family & friends
Suggest a cost limit on gifts and/or come up with an arrangement that doesn’t mean buying a gift for everyone such as pressies for the kids only or even a running a Secret Santa, they’re always fun.
3. Prepare a budget
Make a note of how much you’re prepared to spend on gifts for each person as well as a budget for your Christmas supplies, food & drinks.
4. Track your spending
Knowing where your money is going is a great way to make sure you’re keeping to your budget and not overspending unnecessarily. Use a simple spreadsheet or, even better, ASIC’s MoneySmart TrackMySPEND app which allows you to track your spending as you shop.
5. Start your shopping early
When people leave their shopping to the last minute, the issue of cost is often lost in the panic so buy your Christmas supplies, groceries and presents in advance, where possible, to take advantage of specials and deals that become available.
6. Compare prices online
Instead of first heading to a retailer’s store or website, do a google search for your items online first. You’ll be surprised at the price differences you’ll find on the same item.
Shopping online can save you time and money but take extra care before making any purchase.
7. Look for online discount / promo codes
When shopping online you'd have noticed the discount or promo code box at many seller’s checkout and wished you were able to access it and save some money. But just because you don’t have a promo code, it doesn't mean you can't find one online before completing your order. Google your online retailers name as well as promo code, discount code, coupon or voucher in the search engine. You’ll be surprised at how many promo codes you'll find that can be used at the checkout.
We recently saved a whopping 40% on an online printing service just by googling the ‘retailer’s name’ and ‘promo code’.
8. Choose your debit card over your credit card or a buy now, pay later services
Try and avoid the Christmas debt hangover that so many consumers experience when they receive their first credit card bill in the new year. Choose your Debit Card over your Credit Card for you Christmas purchases so you’re only spending what you have.
If you are tempted to use a Buy Now, Pay Later Service, make sure you completely understand the terms and conditions of the service as it may end up being a very costly exercise in the end.
9. Use your loyalty cards and awards points
If you belong to supermarket and store loyalty programs, a frequent flyer points scheme or a rewards / awards points program, check your loyalty points balance as you may just have enough to purchase your groceries and / or gifts.
10. Share the load
If you’re hosting a Christmas lunch or dinner this year, don’t be shy about asking others to bring something such as snacks, drinks, salads or desserts to the table. Having others bring food and drinks helps to share the load and the costs of the festivities. Many families are already doing this and if yours isn't, it might be a good time to start a new tradition.
It’s well known that banks are tightening their procedures, and the process of applying for – and getting – a mortgage approval is more complicated. So, if you’re thinking that 2019 may see you investing, buying and selling, consolidating your debt or finally getting your first home, it’s now more important than ever to keep your finances in check over the Christmas period as well as maintaining a good credit score.
With a bit of early planning, you can enjoy the festive season and keep your financial house in order. And remember, Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect. By focusing on what really matters, like spending time with loved ones, you’ll have a great Christmas no matter how much (or how little) you spend.